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Does John Brennan Know Too Much for Obama to Fire Him?

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Jphn BrennanWhen John Brennan assured the country that the CIA hadn't improperly monitored the Senate team that compiled a report on Bush-era torture, he fed us false information. That much is clear from Thursday's news that "the C.I.A. secretly monitored a congressional committee charged with supervising its activities."

Either the CIA director was lying or he was unaware of grave missteps at the agency he leads. There are already calls for his resignation or firing from Senator Mark Udall, Trevor Timm, Dan Froomkin, and Andrew Sullivan, plus a New York Times editorial airing his ouster as a possibility.

President Obama could surprise the country by axing his former counterterrorism adviser, explaining that under Brennan's management, employees broke laws and undermined the separation of powers core to our democracy. Obama may well make a good-faith effort to act in the national interest. But it's impossible to believe that he won't be aware of the following: No U.S. official knows more than Brennan about Obama's many drone killings. Some of the killings were solidly grounded in international law. And others may have violated the Fifth Amendment, international law, or the laws of war.

In the past, Brennan has been willing to lie about those drone strikes to hide ugly realities. For example, he stated in the summer of 2011 that there had been zero collateral deaths from covert U.S. drone strikes in the previous year, an absurd claim that has been decisively debunked. What if he grew more forthright, either in public statements or by anonymously leaking information?

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